The future of the contemporary and modern art scene in South East Asia seems to have brightened in the last two years. This was evident when 90% of the national and international galleries participating in the third Indian Art Fair, held at Delhi in January this year, sold at least one to four art works.
According to experts, even the prices soared to decent levels, reminding of the pre-2008 days, when the art market was robust. However, the global recession that swept the world economy months after the first Indian Art fair that was held in 2008, impacted the art market negatively. The recession crippled the soaring art market before 2008 and the prices of most of the art works were reduced to more than half. The younger artists suffered the worst ramifications of the recession as investors showed little or no interest in their works.
The situation seems to be changing now and there are hopes of speedy recovery. There has been an increased interest of the NRIs and art collectors, spread all across the globe, in the works of Indian artists. It is indeed a time when the fine art market in India is finding a place not only in the drawing rooms of elite corporate and royal families but also a place in houses of the middle class families.
Some Renowned Artists in India
The powerhouse artists in India who have gain international recognition are a mix profile of people who hail from rural backgrounds to elite families. M. F. Hussain, Haku Shah, Manjit Bawa, S. G. Vasudev, Jagdeep Smart, Jogen Chowdhary, Piraji Sagra, Akbar Padamsee, Amit Ambalal, N. S. Bendry and Yashwant Shirwadkar are few names who are some of the most prolific artists from India. Following are some artists who are among the best contemporary artists in India.
Subodh Gupta, 47: A graduate of Patna College of Arts, he is widely known for his sculptures of stainless steel kitchen utensils, ubiquitous in the Indian homes. One of the top selling artists in the contemporary art.
Bharati Kher, 42: Born and raised in London, settled in Delhi since 1993, Bharati Kher stands out as the most famous female contemporary artists in India. She explores themes of personal identity, communication and consumerism through her art.
Atul Dodiya, 52: Mr. Dodiya, who hails from Mumbai, is one of the most-sought after Indian artists. His experience and experimentation in arts (from dealing with foreign themes to portraying suburbs of Mumbai), along with his affinity to work on Gandhi, makes him a versatile master of his craft.
Anju Dodiya, 48: Anju completed her diploma from the Sir J.J School of Art in 1986, is regarded to be one of the most prolific female artists in the country. Her works generally deal with the exploration of internal and external realities. She is indeed a detached observer of the world around us.
Certainly, there are many more artists in India who deserve tremendous accolades for their works, here I restricted myself to name just a few of them.
Tapping the Potential of our Art Industry
The excitement and enthusiasm related to the art exhibitions and shows in the current times is also a reminder of this new trend that is sweeping the art scene in our country. Conservative estimates have stated that if the art collectors and investors continue to show the same optimism in the Indian artists, there can be a tenfold increase in the Indian art market valuation by 2018. However, our marvelous growth potential in such a huge global market is threatened when we look at the dismal shape of infrastructure related to art institutions and art galleries in India.
It is the need of the hour to revive our old art institutions and create new ones with well-formulated policies and procedures to ensure that the overall experience of art selling, auctioning and buying creates a strong and self-evolving economy in itself. Excellent public-private initiatives in this field can go a long way in promoting Indian arts and our very talented artists on a global scale.
Tax benefits in the imports of auctioned art pieces can also encourage art collectors in India to buy and collect art items. It is to be noted that China has allowed a five-year tax holiday for imported art items and this single policy has encouraged Chinese art collectors to buy arts like frenzy. To just give you a perspective, last year, Chinese collectors collected arts worth US$4 billion, which is indeed mind boggling, all thanks to their easy tax policies. We can think on those lines, if not implement exactly the same rules.
Also, much of our art still remains dormant in the rural areas. Paucity of funds and unawareness regarding its economic value forces several talented creators to abandon their practice. We must act to realize folk talents in the Indian art scene and must give them a platform to show case their talents.
It is indeed discouraging to note that some art works don’t get the recognition they deserve because they don’t reach the right platform. Development of art galleries in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, with prime focus on folk and local artists can help many aspiring artists and sculptors to make a living out of their craft. We must not restrict the art market to just Delhi, Mumbai or other metro cities.
The handful of institutions that collect legendary works and poor condition of numerous domestic art galleries in India and an absence of the deeper interaction of the citizens with the contemporary and modern art impedes the growth of this market. These are some questions that certainly need serious thinking. While the first Indian Art Summit had attracted just 10,000 visitors, the third one pulled nearly 60,000 people.
These are some very obvious signs that we are gradually doing well in this market. If we can take cues from the wave of optimism surging the art market and work on our weak areas, we will indeed find Indian art to become a well-managed market, with deep cultural, social, ethnic and folk routes. That will be a great heritage and financial achievement.
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